E-ink writing tablet ecosystems: MobiScribe Wave vs Kindle Scribe
This post is not a straight-up ‘MobiScribe Wave vs. Kindle Scribe’ kind of post because I can’t compare the devices themselves. As I said in my MobiScribe perspective post 1, I’ve only demoed the Kindle Scribe at my local Best Buy. But, as someone who’s used numerous Kindle e-ink readers over the years, I can speak to the advantages of the MobiScribe Wave over the Kindle ecosystem.
And with that said, let’s get to it.
The limitations of the Kindle ecosystem
With the Kindle Scribe—like any other Kindle e-ink device—you are not buying a device that opens the door to other platforms; you are instead buying into a limited ecosystem.
Out of the box (and hacking solutions aside), you can’t download other apps for reading content outside of purchases made directly from Kindle.
Apple often gets flak for the walled garden aspects of its own ecosystem, especially on iPhone and iPad devices. But to Apple’s credit, at least they do let you download apps outside their ecosystem, though to be fair, those same apps may not be the easiest to use, as is the case with apps that can sync to Apple’s mobile devices only via iCloud. (Obsidian comes to mind2. To sync Obsidian with mobile devices, you have only two options: iCloud and Obsidian Sync. At a cost of $8 per month, Obsidian Sync isn’t a great alternative for everyone.) The point is that Apple’s ecosystem has its issues, but it’s nothing compared to Kindle’s.
In terms of apps and functionality, if you go with the Kindle Scribe, you better be completely satisfied with the Kindle ecosystem because the Kindle e-ink devices are basically gateways only to Amazon content. By default—again assuming you haven’t hacked the device—all your content comes from the Kindle Store. You do have the option to transfer ebooks from your computer, which would most likely require stripping the DRM, unless you got the books already DRM-free. But most normies aren’t going to go that route.
Note: Fortunately, you can still save money on ebooks via the Kindle if your library offers access to the Libby app3.
The flexibility of the MobiScribe ecosystem—or lack thereof
Android tablets, including the MobiScribe Wave, give you plenty options for downloading other apps for reading various written content.
With the Wave, as is the case with other Android tablets, the Kindle Store is simply another option. The device comes with the option to easily download the Kindle app via the MobiStore. But you can also enable Google Play and download other apps, which may save you some money.
As a personal example, I recently figured out how to read current issues of The Economist via the Houston Public Library 4 and the PressReader5 app available from Google Play, saving me over $200 a year. With the Kindle, I can read ebooks and publications only if I can purchase or subscribe to them via the Kindle store. Because The Economist recently cut off access via the Kindle store, I have no option to read the magazine on the Kindle, no matter how much I’m willing to pay.
The Wave also lets me download RSS apps and read-it latter apps so that I can keep up with my digital sources, if I so choose. Kindle devices provide no such option, a limitation which keeps them from being the ultimate reading devices.
Is the Kindle ecosystem all you need?
Perhaps the Kindle Scribe is fine if you plan to use it only as it is often promoted: A device first for reading Kindle books and second for some basic writing capabilities. Even though the MobiScribe Wave is, for me, first and foremost an e-ink writing tablet, I still appreciate the reading options it gives me. Having the option to download and read from an app other than Kindle makes the MobiScribe Wave a more capable reading device.
When I’m ready to upgrade my e-ink writing tablet, I’ll likely look again to MobiScribe (maybe the soon-to-be-released MobiScribe Wave Color Kaleido 36), or one of the many e-ink tablets offered by Boox7.
Jake LaCaze is totally an e-ink stan.